For Want of a Stapler



September 6, 2002

For Want of a Stapler...

"Sorry, PCCI (Peace Corps Cote d'Ivoire) says they don't have to provide volunteers with staplers in [the] Volunteer Resource room in Abidjan."

That was the official, written response to my request for a working stapler in the volunteer office. We have two there now; neither works. In letters to some of you, I've been less than complimentary about the quality of professionals around me in Peace Corps administration. The Administrative Officer routinely calls volunteers "babies" (as in "You volunteers are such babies. Quit whining!") The Country Director has been sarcastic and unprofessional to me twice, once in a formal meeting, once when I had stopped to ask for an appointment. Each member of the staff has "office hours" for meeting with volunteers, totaling 14 hours per week. Presumably during the other 26 hours each week, they are doing more important work. These people would never make it in private industry. Can you imagine wanting to speak with your boss and finding out you had to return during his/her office hours? Ridiculous!

Well, the stapler issue was the final straw for me. I just spent the summer helping train the new volunteers, leading diversity sessions, and helping develop our new Small Business Development program. In general, I enjoy sharing my 15 years of business experience and my other talents with those around me. But if my administration cannot see the benefits of MUTUAL SUPPORT - say, them providing a professional, helpful atmosphere for me to do my work in exchange for me sharing my talents - then I am no longer interested in helping them with training or program development. For want of a stapler, and all the other problems that the stapler represents, the administration here has lost any contributions I might make outside of Taabo. I hope the trade off has been worth it.